Good nutrition is just as important as exercise for your good health. What’s more, athletic workouts, distance running, and body building all put your body through punishment that you need extra nutrition to repair.
Hard, vigorous exercise damages your muscles and puts stress on your bones. “No pain, no gain,” the saying goes, but pain is a sign that your body is being tested beyond its normal limits and damage is happening.
In fact, that’s how a workout works: it damages your muscles, and your body repairs the damage, making the muscles stronger. But it needs the right materials to do the job. The single most important nutrient for repairing the damage caused by exercise, the building material for the increased strength and endurance you want from your workout, is protein.
Although you can get protein from foods, such as lean meat and legumes, a quickly-metabolized extra boost from protein powder is something serious body-builders swear by.
Another way exercise can damage your body is by producing free radicals. Free radicals are a natural, unavoidable by-product of exercise. But they can also cause harm to your immune system, trigger cancer-causing oncogenes, and even accelerate the aging process.
A number of important vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium, counter the production of free radicals. These nutrients are called “antioxidants.” They are an important part of any diet, and can help reduce the risk of cancer and other serious illness.
Antioxidants can also buffer your body against the extra production of free radicals from your workout. Supplements high in antioxidants should be a part of your daily routine.
Strenuous exercise increases your body’s demand for minerals, and also increases mineral loss through urine and sweat. It’s important to replace the minerals that your workout costs you. Minerals are essential to many aspects of your health, from metabolism to bone density.
The main minerals that are lost due to hard exercise are copper, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Calcium and chromium, although not lost as readily due to exercise, are essential to repairing any bone damage, such as bone bruises and the stress on the bones of many types of exercise including running and weight-lifting.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: if your body needs it, your workout program means you need more of it. A good, high-quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplement is even more important when you are engaged in a serious, hard exercise program.
The bottom line is that what you put into your body is at least as important to your health and performance as how hard you work out. So why would you exercise without supplements?